Along with an extensive community and regional programme, Wellington City Council will kick-off Matariki ki Pōneke with a creative and dynamic ReCut show on Friday 15 June, a new event Ahi Kā on Friday 29 June to celebrate fire, kai and whānau, and the Sky Show fireworks on Saturday 7 July.
“I’m excited to announce the programme for our new winter festival, Matariki ki Pōneke,” Mayor Justin Lester says.
“Wellington is the cultural capital of Aotearoa, so I wanted us to lead the way in making Matariki a major celebration on our events calendar. That’s why we have expanded our own festival and supported other events in the region.
“As the Māori New Year, this celebration is uniquely ours and we should be proud to tell our traditional stories and celebrate our culture.”
Last year, the Mayor announced the capital would put Matariki at the heart of a new winter festival, with $250,000 additional funding allocated for the celebrations.
The new Ahi Kā event will feature some of New Zealand’s finest Māori performers and storytellers, food trucks, fire sculptures, and a light parade showcasing talent from the region’s schools. There will also be hāngi, toasted marshmallows, fire on the water, and a midwinter bonfire on Wellington’s waterfront.
Events portfolio leader Councillor Simon Marsh says: “We wanted to make sure there was something for everyone at this event and encourage people to bring their friends and whānau and enjoy the festivities.”
Matariki is the Māori name for the cluster of stars also known as the Pleiades, which rise in mid-winter and are visible for about a month pre-dawn around June and July, low on the horizon in the north east of the sky. Traditionally, it represents the start of the New Year for Māori. It is also a time for remembering the dead and celebrating new life.
Māori partnerships portfolio leader Deputy Mayor Jill Day says the new Ahi Kā event has been developed with iwi mana whenua and is about whānau and whanaungatanga (caring and sharing).
“This is part of our commitment to revitalising te reo in our city and honouring our Māori heritage,” she says.
“The Ahi Kā festival will celebrate our unique cultural stories and enable Wellingtonians to learn the narratives behind Matariki.”